Man with bomb parts boards plane – all involved point fingers

(via boingboing)

Given how many people go through all the airports here in the US, I think it’s totally understandable that sometimes, some people get through screening that shouldn’t. When it does happen, though, I think figuring out what went wrong and trying to fix it beats playing the blame game. Unfortunately, in Houston, the blame-game appears to be the more notable part of the story.

Houston police and the federal Transportation Security Administration disagree over who is responsible for allowing a man with what appeared to be bomb components board an aircraft at Hobby Airport last week.

Although the FBI eventually cleared the man of wrongdoing, police officials have transferred the officer involved and are investigating the incident while insisting that the TSA, not police, has the authority to keep a suspicious person from boarding a flight.

“Our job is not to be the gatekeepers,” police Capt. Dwayne Ready said. “That burden falls squarely on the airline and TSA to make that final decision.

. . .

The report states that a man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop.

A search of the man’s baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man’s shoes and determined that the “entire soles of both shoes were gutted out.”

No idea what the real story is here. Hopefully someone figures it out, works on clarifying procedures, and we don’t hear about this kind of snafu again (because it doesn’t happen, not because no one reports it next time…). I should mention that I may be picking up the wrong side of the story anyway:

The incident gained enough attention at higher levels of the TSA that the FBI was asked to investigate. The TSA issued a statement saying its screeners “acted in accordance with their training and protocols.”

FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett in Atlanta said agents there investigated the passenger.

“It was looked at and deemed a non-event,” Emmett said, declining to give further details.

So maybe the bomb-parts thing is just an erroneous part of the report.

[tags]TSA, Air travel safety[/tags]